Q&A with Richard Jones, CEO of EngageSciences
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EngageSciences is a social marketing platform provider with a difference. Avoiding the rigid templates of the first generation of vendors, brands can deliver exceptionally rich social experiences to engage consumers. Using social data to build up a unique picture of how people are interacting with brands and how they are influencing their friends to engage, EngageSciences gives marketers the tools to run ongoing advocacy programs to increase the lifetime value of fans.
With offices in London, Oxford and New York the company has clients in over 50 countries including brands such as Net A Porter, Play.com, Nokia, Stella Artois, Daily Mail Group and Home Shopping Network. The capabilities of the platform are backed-up by a world-class services team of experienced social marketers.
During Social Media Week, EngageSciences will be providing a sneak preview of the latest version of the platform, due for launch in Q4 2012, to get feedback from the social media community. We believe that our new release provides significant innovations in how to bridge community management and marketing, helping social media managers win more influence with senior management. Come see us, we want your feedback!
Q1a) Tell us about your background with EngageSciences.
I founded EngageSciences with Lee Shepstone and Iain Short back in 2009. We had all come from a background in enterprise software and wanted to apply this experience to the world of social media marketing. At that time, we felt there was a real need in the market for a single platform that could enable social media managers to become much more influential within the marketing organisation. There were a number of competitors already in our space, both large and small, but we felt these platforms were really social media management systems, enabling companies to run social publishing activities and to create simple apps to drive engagement. What was needed was a more sophisticated approach to social marketing that allowed social media managers to not just run engagement activities, but to track how each individual fan was interacting with a brands marketing, running advocacy programs that reward influence and unlocking social data that would mean social channels were central to the development of the marketing database.
We put a brand’s fans and followers at the centre of the platform, where data and insight are at the heart of everything we do. We made it our goal to enable marketers within enterprise brands to create and deploy beautiful campaigns, segment and interrogate their social database, understand how people engage with a series of connected experiences, and effectively measure ROI across all of their social activities. We genuinely believe that social media managers, if given the tools, can be the CMOs of the future because of what they can learn about potential customers.
Q1b) What are the organisation’s major goals are for 2012/13?
When you look at our impressive performance in 2011/12 – where we grew the company by 400%, enabled our customers to deploy campaigns in more than 50 companies, opened offices in New York, grew our team by 100% and started working with some fantastic enterprise brands like Nokia, Play.com, NET-A-PORTER, Mumsnet – we believe that 2012/13 is going to a great year for EngageSciences.
Of course new markets, more offices, an expanding team, an expanding network of partners, are all on the cards for the coming year. But, for the team at EngageSciences it’s not just about growth, it’s our ambition to create a truly differentiated service offering that’s recognised and adopted by the market as the next generation of social marketing platforms. One that breaks the shackles and campaign rigidity of the old guard and one that truly puts the audience at the heart of the solution.
Q2) When and why did EngageSciences first get involved with SMWLDN?
Whilst we attended a number of events at SMWLDN last year, we really feel that 2012 is the perfect time for us to introduce our proposition to a wider market. So, this year, we’re really taking our involvement seriously. We attended brainstorming sessions with Chinwag to set the agenda and themes for 2012 and then decided to become Hub Supporting Sponsors of the Advertising and Marketing Hub. And, what better place to be based for three days during SMWLDN, than Facebook HQ in Covent Garden.We’re also pleased to be associated with Nokia, who are the Global Headline Sponsor of Social Media Week. As their social marketing platform of record, we’re proud to have played a key role in helping Nokia become the number one mobile brand on Facebook.
We’re holding an event at 2.00-4.00pm on 25th September at Facebook HQ. We’re pleased to be joined in this session by some of our customers from The Daily Mail Group, Play.com and The Humane Society of the United States and social strategists from adam&eveDDB. Tickets are being snapped-up quickly, so make sure you book your place here.
In addition, we’re sponsoring a couple of parties during the week. The main one being at the Hospital Club on Monday 25th September – “More Than Just a Hashtag” – How Offline Campaigns Ignite Social Online Campaigns.
Q3) What is a major trend you see emerging in the social media space?
Social media is breaking out of its self-imposed silo and integrating with a broad range of other marketing channels e.g. email, online advertising, search, etc. This is testament to the fact that social media can now prove its effectiveness at driving awareness, engagement, advocacy and ultimately sales. You only need to look at the undeniable and impressive results from Play.com to see that social marketing has truly come of age. (Play.com are one of our early customers, and they generated £2m in social sales during 2011 and proved that fans who engage with their campaigns are 24% more valuable than they were during the 6 months prior to engagement. Adam Stewart from Play.com will be joining us at our event on 25th September).
Q4) What platforms are you really excited about?
It’s essential that we anticipate which platforms are going to be big in 2012/13. This will enable us to build the management of these platforms into the ongoing development of our solution, much like we have done for Pinterest this year. However, I am actually most excited about Facebook this year. It has pioneered what brands can do on a social network by being open, by fostering a community of developers, such as EngageSciences (a Marketing API Preferred Developer Partner), to make use of all these open social features to engage with consumers. Facebook has added considerable financial muscle, through its IPO and the speed of change is now increasing. The Facebook API changes at an unbelievable pace now and there will be so many new opportunities for brands, marketers and social media managers to create innovate social experiences that leverage the social graph. What Facebook has done up until now has been on pocket money compared to the resources they now have. Be prepared for a period of time where the fabric of the web will change at a faster pace than at any other time in history. It is going to be exciting.
Q5) What are you looking forward to most at SMWLDN Sept ’12?
We’re relishing the opportunity to show the latest version of our platform to a wide range of people during Social Media Week. Our engineering team have been working incredibly hard to develop the new version of the platform that puts clear water between us and the old guard of social marketing platforms like BuddyMedia and Wildfire.
Q6) Where do you see the future of social media heading?
We see the next phase of social media marketing, as being the adoption Marketing Automation principles, as this channel matures for a way to connect with consumers. Marketers will become more effective, because they’re able to deploy campaigns that use insight and knowledge from previous campaigns to better segment and target prospects in forthcoming campaigns. Ease of use, campaign flexibility, segmentation and audience insights are at the heart of what marketers will need to become more effective. In addition, these marketers will increasingly be required to integrate social campaigns and data into other marketing channels e.g. email, analytics, CRM, etc. This is exactly what EngageSciences is trying to achieve for these social marketers, where we can elevate social to a strategic marketing channel that can influence not only future social strategies, but all other marketing channels.
Q7) What are you hoping to get from SMWLDN Sept ’12?
Whilst it’s going to be fantastic meeting the huge number of people who will be attending the events and parties, we can only succeed if we can connect with our community to understand their needs and to get their honest feedback on the new version of our platform. That’s why we’re inviting everybody to sign-up for free beta access to the new version of platform, so that they can deploy some test campaigns and understand just what makes us different from the first generation of one-off campaign management platforms. We want the social media marketing communities feedback, so what better place to get in than #SMWLDN.
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